Architect In Charge: Ignacio Mendaro Corsini
Promoter: Fundación Alfredo Harp Helú Oaxaca, Gobierno del estado de Oaxaca
Architecture Team: Anabel Gómez García, Omar Peñaloza Mendoza, Maribel González Apodaca, José Ignacio Montes
Structural Engineering: PROESI S.C./ Darío Vasconcelos M
Facilities Engineering: Abelino León García
Illumination: Noriega Iluminadores
Invited Artist: Francisco Toledo
Text description provided by the architects. The main detonator of the building process was the absolute and urgent need to preserve all the documentary richness of Oaxaca's heritage, which was scattered in many places and on the brink of destruction.
The “Las Canteras” Park, as it is known by Oaxaca’s people, is without any doubt, the ideal location to build the City of Archives. It is a highly symbolic site, because most of the green stone used to build the city of Antequera, as was known the city of Oaxaca under the Spanish rule and which gave the city its proud name of Verde or Green Antequera, came from this site. This fact enriches the site and makes the architectural challenge more transcendent. The building, rising in the middle of the Park, generates the impulse to modify the whole of it (12 hectares) and galvanize the area which is located in the outskirts of Oaxaca City
The urban-environmental project takes advantage of the Park excellent location, accessible means of transport and urban services, plus two main features that will give meaning to this new vision: green and lacustrine ranges with large ecological potential and recreation areas intensively used by the population.
The main function of the Archive building is to preserve and protect the documentary collection; therefore the process of safe file keeping will somehow mark and guid its architectural design. Any document reaches the repositories after a complex control. It must be analyzed, selected, organized and cataloged after its due restoration. All these specialized tasks and its associated needs must be harbored by the building. But the project should also include a space for the students who will research these collections; and to honor them, a special hall of researchers had to be designed.
The topography of the place demands different heights, so the areas are distributed in four levels. The first level was designed for the public activities and to give access to the documentary collections; the higher levels were destined to the specialized activities proper to the archive. In the innermost part of the building, the documents repositories occupy the largest surface.
Users and visitors of the Archive, as well as the site natural beauty, should mingle harmoniously out, with and within the buildings. So the public ways, leading to the auditorium, classrooms, libraries, exhibition halls and cafeteria, must intertwine inside the building without interfering with the work world of file collection, organization and restoration tasks.
The volumes that make up the buildings set were distributed respecting the existing trees, generating a set of buildings connected to each other by courtyards and interior corridors. The inner patios peppered within the project, besides allowing cross ventilation, capture a significant amount of rainwater and feed the water network replenishing the existing pools in the Park. The two accesses of the building, with a topographic jump of four meters, are the beginning and end of a pedestrian route. The intention of these two levels of access is that the building be closely linked to the Park and that it could become, de facto, one more of the many pedestrian routes already winding through the Park.
The buildings are built of smooth concrete finished walls painted in ocher, alluding to the color of the lands of the Mixteca Region. Oaxaca Architecture teaches us about the importance of walls and light and shadow chiaroscuro play in architecture volumes and in the sequence of courtyards. It is a wise architecture which fuses weather and climate with sun and vegetation allowing breathing transparencies come alive, and it shows masterfully in this remarkable contemporary architectural work.